Children in the work place: Married Quinnipiac professors share their viewpoints

Jenn Press

Going to college at the age of three and being raised on campus is not typical of parents today. But Quinnipiac professors and parents Kathy Cooke and David Valone, bring their son Sasha Cooke Valone to campus every day as if it were ‘bring your child to work day.’
Valone, the director of freshman programming and teaching in the history department, has worked as the assistant dean for the College of Liberal Arts, and as a visiting assistant history professor.
Cooke is an associate professor of history and has occasionally taught women studies courses in the past. She is also a part of the women studies advisory committee.
After being on sabbatical for eight months after her son Sasha was born, Cooke went back to work, and brought Sasha with her.
Having met in graduate school at the University of Chicago, this couple has stuck together.
Cooke mentioned her and her husband do truly like each other, and working in separate schools was not an idea they desired.
Cooke applied nationwide for a historian position and was accepted to Quinnipiac University. Once she began working, her husband Valone was recognized for his talents and offered a job as well. Both Cooke and Valone have been a part of the Quinnipiac community for the past eight years.
While in the past Sasha went to Quinnipiac daily, but as he has gotten older he only visits a few times a week. Sasha has never interrupted Cooke’s or Valone’s work schedules. They have been fortunate to teach at different times throughout the day, enabling them to care for Sasha in between that time.
Sasha has made appearances at the beginning of a class, but he has never sat through a lesson or disturbed others from learning.
On a different note, having a youngster around has been beneficial. Sasha was of help to the occupational therapy class when they worked on physical development and child adolescence.
Faculty, such as professor Len Engel have also brought their children to work at Quinnipiac, and the idea may become more common as younger faculty are being hired.
Cooke and Valone are always making sure that Sasha is appropriate and they have not received any complaints from staff, faculty or students.
Cooke commented that she loves having Sasha at work, even though it is taxing. However, due to the flexibility that Cooke and Valone have, their job positions continue to cooperate.
Day care was never an option the quinnipiac professors wished to consider for their child. From the start, Sasha’s parents had support from the faculty and recieved their permission to include Sasha in their day.
He tried pre-school briefly, but did not do well with the separation. He is very attached to his parents, and this arrangement suits each of their needs.
School for Sasha is not decided as of yet, considering that he is reading at a second grade level and has advanced people skills.
Possibilities of home schooling are considered by Sasha’s parents, but are yet to be finalized. Valone and Cooke desire only the best for Sasha and have not settled for less.
“He’s very social and confident,” said Cooke. “He’s had a lot of adult contact, but that hasn’t led him to lack with children. He’s interactive and curious.”
Observing Cooke and Valone’s interaction with Sasha humanizes them.
“It’s fun to see the students react to him because they light up when they see him,” said Valone. “A lot of students like seeing a child around because it reminds them of their family.”
In addition to his family life, Sasha is also active with his young peers. He has a playgroup, and is part of the YMCA swim and soccer team where he socializes with many friends. He has also taken up violin lessons.
Constantly surrounded by adults has helped Sasha to mature quickly. Cooke and Valone include him in outings to fine restaurants, concerts, and sophisticated gatherings where he continues to be well-behaved.
What does Sasha do all day in college? He loves reading the children’s books in the curriculum center and the game room. Sasha shared that his favorite part of Quinnipiac University is “that it has food and the quick stop.”
Often times, Sasha and his parents can be found in the cafeteria or in the Ratt eating a meal together.
Sasha has had many Quinnipiac students and alumni as babysitters, but never a current student of his parents.
Through word of mouth, interviews, and observations, Cooke and Valone have hired numerous babysitters to care for Sasha. The main concern for Sasha is safety.
Sasha’s current babysitter, Kelly, is responsible for entertaining him during the day, providing him with meals, and keeping him happy while his parents are at work.
Often times, Sasha and his parents can be found in the cafeteria or in the Ratt eating a meal together.
In addition to the academic field, Valone works in the entertainment business as well.
He is a disc jockey for the ‘Doctor Dave and Sasha Show,’ which airs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on WQAQ. The segment plays college and alternative music along with a history of bands. Sasha speaks on the radio and contributes by playing occasional children’s music.
It is agreed that there is not much separation between work life and home life because Quinnipiac University is an “extended family” to the Cooke/Valone family.
Cooke said while it can be difficult to decipher home from job, the family does try their best.
“I’m proud of what we do because it’s not easy,” said Cooke.